Lou Cotroneo, a man synonymous with St. Paul hockey, left an indelible mark on the community before his passing at the ripe age of 93. Cotroneo, affectionately called “coach” by many, was not just a former athlete or educator; he was a cornerstone of the hockey scene in eastside St. Paul, remembered for his dedication and passion for the game.
How Did Cotroneo Shape St. Paul’s Hockey Legacy?
Cotroneo’s legacy was cemented through his extensive involvement in the sport. His journey began at Johnson High School, where he was a backup goaltender for the Governors’ state championship team in 1947. His on-ice skills translated into a 20-year coaching tenure at the same high school, leading the team to seven state tournament appearances and holding the reins as head coach for a decade.
What Was Cotroneo’s Role Beyond Coaching?
Beyond coaching, Cotroneo contributed to St. Paul’s educational system as an assistant principal at Humboldt High School. His commitment extended to the city of St. Paul’s administration, where he continued to influence the youth and broader community.
In What Ways Did Cotroneo Influence Professional Hockey?
Cotroneo’s reach went beyond amateur hockey. He had been a stick boy for the St. Paul Saints, a minor-league team, and later took on the role of officiating in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Perhaps most notably, he was the VIP greeter for the Minnesota Wild during the franchise’s first decade, embodying the spirit of hockey in St. Paul at the professional level.
Why Did Norm Coleman Call Him “The Godfather of St. Paul Hockey”?
Former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman bestowed upon Cotroneo the moniker “The Godfather of St. Paul hockey” as a testament to his influential presence. Cotroneo wasn’t only a coach or official; he was also a mentor, leader and figure who contributed greatly to hockey beyond just on-ice action. His impactful presence had lasting ripples in players lives as well as community involvement that fostered a love for this timeless game that endured for generations to come.
How Did Cotroneo Reflect on His Contributions to Hockey?
In a humble reflection, Cotroneo expressed gratitude for his experiences in hockey, acknowledging the sport’s generosity towards him, perhaps hinting at a belief that he received more from hockey than he gave. In an interview with the Pioneer Press in 2009, he signified his retirement from his position with the Wild, marking the end of an era in St. Paul hockey.
Lou Cotroneo’s story is not just one of personal achievement but also of community impact. His life serves as an illustration of how passion for one individual can spark lifelong interest in sport among a community. While St. Paul mourns “coach’s” passing, they remember and honour his legacy – an individual who truly was much more than an instructor; rather he was the heart and soul of hockey in St. Paul.
1. What is Lou Cotroneo’s legacy in St. Paul hockey?
Lou Cotroneo is remembered as a legendary coach, an inspiring mentor, and an integral figure in St. Paul hockey, with 20 years of coaching that included 10 years as head coach and seven state tournament appearances.
2. Which high school did Cotroneo both play for and coach?
Cotroneo was associated with Johnson High School, where he played as a backup goaltender and later served as a coach for two decades.
3. What nickname did Norm Coleman give to Cotroneo?
Former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman nicknamed him “the Godfather of St. Paul hockey” for his influential presence in the sport at both amateur and professional levels.
4. What role did Cotroneo have with the Minnesota Wild?
Cotroneo was the VIP greeter for the Minnesota Wild for the first ten years of the franchise’s existence, contributing to the professional hockey community.
5. When did Cotroneo retire from his role with the Minnesota Wild?
Lou Cotroneo retired from his position with the Minnesota Wild in 2009, as reported by the Pioneer Press.